Summer Accessories.

Summer iPads.

For Summer Learning, we opted for the iPad 6.

To protect our investment, we had the retailer apply the glass screen cover, and bought these durable cases to protect the edges.

Summer Handbags.

For my summer fashion, I’ve opted for a fun over-the-shoulder straw purse! And a large, long handled straw bag with bright tassels for those days when you need to take a lot of stuff!

Meatloaf.

I’ve always loved to cook and one of my mom’s favorite stories to tell centers on the premise that you can put anything into meatloaf. When she told 9-year old me this casual info, she must have been referring to the flexibility of spices, starches and sauces. However, I took her a bit too literal and added my favorite food- Nerds candy. Yup, I served my parents and brother a hearty plate of crunchy-candy infused meatloaf. The bright speckles were a shock to all, but we managed through and still laugh about that fateful dinner. This recipe is a variation of my MIL’s meatloaf, sans candy. I simplified the measurements and eliminated ingredients that most kitchens don’t stock. This delicious dish is sure to warm your soul during cold months!

Whisk together:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. each:
    • black pepper
    • chili powder
    • nutmeg powder
    • cumin

Pour into large bowl filled with:

  • 3 lbs. ground meat mixture, (I use all beef, 90/10 fat ratio)
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. each:
    • brown sugar
    • Italian bread crumbs
    • oats

Gently mix well with hands, shape into 2 loafs and place each onto a foil lined baking dish, (9×13 works well, but use what you have and turn the foil edge up to create a lip to contain juices).

Using same bowl, whisk together the following sauce, then pour half of the sauce over each of the loafs:

  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 t. yellow mustard
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • (Optional: add a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce to one loaf to create a more savory option.)

Cover each pan with foil, then bake at 350-degrees for one hour. Uncover, check for done-ness, allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Nerd Notice: not recommended for meatloaf, spaghetti or other savory adventures.

Chicken Enchiladas.

Freshman year of college is adventurous and life-changing. I met new friends from here, there, over yonder, over seas, and everywhere in between. Kylee introduced me to Enchiladas with her delicious, creamy recipe. She would host dinner nights and serve these to our crew and one time, this crazy chick had been hanging out with us and pretended someone was stalking her and we got so scared, thinking they were outside! It was all a big, strange joke (farce, lie) and we stopped hanging out with her. Kylee and I continue to be friends and I’ve tweaked her recipe a bit, but it continues to be my go-to “Take to a Friend” dish and is always loved by friends and family.

As always, these ingredients are guidelines. I have made the sauce using packages of the dried enchilada mix (following their instructions to make sauce), or used large cans of cream/soup… sometimes I add garlic or a splash of wine. Whatever is handy.

Ingredients:

  • Rice
  • Black beans
  • Shredded/matchstick carrots

Directions:

  • Cook and shred chicken.
  • Warm olive oil in large sauce pan, sauté onion.
  • Whisk in Enchilada sauce and cans of soup.
  • Simmer.
  • Season as desired, adding diced green chilies.
  • Coat bottom and sides of 2 large casserole pans with sauce. (This prevents enchiladas from sticking and/or drying out)
  • Fill and roll enchiladas (TIP: Make an assembly line of your ingredients then use your hands to grab the ingredients!)
    • Layer Ingredients:
      • Mixture of Rice, Chicken, Cheese and Enchilada Sauce
      • Beans
      • Carrots
      • Additional Sauce

Place seam-side down in pans, tightly next to each other.
Cover with enchilada sauce- making sure to extend all the way to edges and between the enchiladas.
Top with a few handfuls of cheese.
Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.
Top with more cheese; serve with additional sauce and sour cream, if desired.

Enjoy! Freeze any extra sauce.

Pot Roast Burgundy.

Fridays are for weekend preparation and a hearty Pot Roast is just the dish to fill your home with delicious aromas and fill your bellies with a savory and healthy meal.  When I prepare this dish, I double the sauce and freeze it so I can grab it on a busy day! This is a lazy version of Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon, but it’s so yummy!

Ingredients:

Main:

  • 3-4 lb. pot roast
  • 2 large white onions, sliced
  • 1 lb. baby carrots
  • Salt/Pepper

Sauce:

  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. Burgundy or red wine

Other Things:

  • 1/2 c. Flour or Arrowroot to Thicken
  • 1/2 lb. potatoes, washed, peeled and quartered

Directions:

  • Salt & Pepper the roast & onions, place in crock pot fat side on top.
  • Mix the sauce in a large bowl. Set aside a cup or two of the sauce to be added at end to freshen up the flavor.
  • Pour sauce over the roast.
  • Cook on low 7 hours.
  • Warm the left-over sauce in the microwave, then thicken by whisking flour in with fork.  (I make mine really thick because it will dissipate once added to the other liquid. The warmth of the liquid will activate the flour; mixing it outside the crock-pot will eliminate clumps.)
  • Pour in crock-pot, add potatoes, stir and continue cooking for another hour.

Enjoy!  This hearty dish has a scrumptious gravy that Paris well with egg noodles or mashed potatoes!

Serious Sloppy Joes.

Thursday Night is game night at our home and these sweet and tangy Sloppy Joes bring back childhood memories of competitive banter over long games of Monopoly. I don’t think I ever actually landed on Boardwalk, but would somehow end up with the valuable Park Place/Boardwalk combo every time and love to see the joy on my kiddos faces when they finally build hotels on this prime real estate. DH, (dearest hubby), always claims the first first and lowest priced Purple properties, (maybe Baltic Ave and something else?). They don’t pay much but are a steady stream of income as people pass Go and land on his affordable housing options. Enjoy this vintage dish with your loved ones and clear the table for hours of Monopoly! (Our games often last into the weekend! Sometimes, we give all players a Cash Bonus so we can continue playing, because life isn’t about the destination/winning- it’s the journey that matters.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey, if that’s your thing)
  • Salt/pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

  • In large skillet, brown the meat over medium heat.
  • Add salt/pepper, garlic and onion powder: continue browning.
  • Add everything else, simmer for a few minutes.
  • Let cool for a few minutes to thicken.

Enjoy! Serve with whole-grain hamburger buns, sliced cheese, dijon mustard and mild banana pepper rings! I like to serve mine with pickles, coleslaw and potato chips to give this a fun picnic vibe.

Must Have for Family game night: Hasbro Monopoly Classic Game

Sombrero Dip.

During my many days as a collegiate, my roommates and I would walk to the amazing burrito place for giant, foil-wrapped burritos and zesty Sombrero dip served with warm tortilla chips. The smooth cream cheese is brightened with salsa and taco seasoning; refried beans and cheddar cheese add to the savory flavor and creamy texture. My BFF’s daughter is 3 and loves this dip, so I always make a batch for her!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 handfuls shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Salsa
  • 2 T. Taco Seasoning
  • 1 can vegetarian Refried Beans

Directions:

Mix ingredients together in a Crock-pot, warm slowly for a few hours. Serve with tortilla chips and carrots. Enjoy!

Sweet & Sassy Meatballs.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed these popular party meatballs before! Super easy, always delicious. Grab your crock-pot, (medium size for small groups, double the recipe and use your large crock for a crowd), mix it up and let simmer!

Ingredients:

  • One Bottle Chili Sauce
  • One Jar Grape Jelly
  • One Bag Frozen Meatballs (I use Costco Italian Meatballs)

Instructions:

  • Pour Meatballs into Medium Crock-Pot
  • Pour chili sauce and grape jelly on top, give a quick easy stir.
  • Let simmer on low while you enjoy your day, stir and check after three hours. Continue cooking if still frozen, turn down if cooked to completion.
  • Enjoy!

Breaded Dijon Pork Chops

My children LOVE these crunchy and flavorful pork chops.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 t. Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 t. Pepper
  • 1/4 t. Italian seasoning
  • 3 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 4 pork chops, approx. 1/2″ thick
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, warm Oil at medium heat. 
  2. On a small plate, combine the Crumbs and Seasonings. 
  3. Spread Mustard on both sides of Pork Chops.
  4. Coat with Crumb mixture. 
  5. Cook Pork Chops in oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and juices run clear.
  6. Enjoy!